One of the common sources of stress for many people is their jobs. There’d always be days and weeks when your job duties would be too overwhelming and stressful to handle.
Among the most physically and mentally demanding sectors in the world is the healthcare industry. Medical workers, like nurses, aren’t only required to handle different patients. They also have to work long hours due to the shortage of staff. On top of that, working in hospitals can be highly stressful as they’re surrounded by sick patients, demanding family visitors, and endless phone calls, as well as participate in emergency operations. All these can take a toll on their physical, emotional, and mental health. When left ignored, this could lead to nurse burnout.
What Is Nurse Burnout?
Nurse burnout happens when a nurse is experiencing overwhelming physical, emotional, and mental exhaustion due to their job. When a nurse undergoes burnout, they tend to have lower job satisfaction, lose their sense of accomplishment, and feel depleted and empty. Nurses could start feeling burned out when they’re overworked, like when they’re required to work longer shifts for several weeks. Aside from this, they may barely have enough break time during work and not be able to eat a decent meal.
As common or expected as these may seem, nurses must know how to cope with burnout. Otherwise, this may negatively affect their work performance and overall health, which could eventually lead to resignation. The more nurses quit their jobs, the more the medical industry would experience a shortage of nurses.
Smart Ways To Resolve Nurse Burnout And Work-Related Stress
If you’re a nurse and feeling all burned out, there are ways and techniques you can do to cope with it. Here are six smart ways to help you manage and resolve nurse burnout and other work-related stress.
1. Take Time For Self-Care
When you’re assigned to numerous patients, scheduled on multiple shifts, and deal with other healthcare demands, it’s easy to neglect yourself and rather focus on these things. Unfortunately, overlooking your own needs can eventually lead to burnout. Thus, no matter how busy you are with your work, make sure to set aside time for self-care and address your own needs.
For instance, if you’re stuck between hectic shifts, give yourself at least 5 to 10 minutes of bathroom break and use this to practice deep-breathing exercises or perform yoga and meditation. If you have a lunch break, consider taking your meals outside the hospital and let yourself be immersed in a stress-free environment, away from the hospital. You can walk to the nearest café shop, park, or canteen and drink and eat mindfully. During your lunch breaks, focus on eating healthy food options to keep your body energized.
Furthermore, it’s also ideal to utilize your day-offs for a quick getaway or short trips. Allow yourself to pull away from anything related to your job to avoid nurse burnout. After all, you deserve a break from all your hard work.
2. Build Strong Interpersonal Relationships
Your relationships with the people at your workplace can play a crucial role in coping with nurse burnout. When you have good and strong relationships with your colleagues, managers, and even the patients you work with, the less likely you’d feel stressed out with your job. Moreover, having someone at work with whom to vent out your physical and emotional distress is also a good thing.
But given that every nurse and healthcare professional is battling their own burnout, you should also build social support with people outside of work. It can be your family, loved ones, or friends back home. The more you surround yourself with supportive people, the easier it’d be for you to cope and resolve burnout.
3. Create Boundaries Between Work And Life
Sustaining a work-life balance is one of the greatest challenges many employees face, especially nurses. Some nurses with long and busy work shifts might easily lose track of their personal life. Thus, they may end up doing nothing else but work during their shift and worry about their job even while not on duty.
So always strive to set boundaries and separate your work from your personal life. There’s nothing wrong with being a competent nurse and giving your all during your working hours. But once you’re finally off duty, make sure you leave anything related to your job in your workplace. Leave those negative feelings and thoughts about your work and redirect yourself to focus on your family, friends, and other personal matters.
Go out and spend time with nature, go shopping, or do anything that makes you happy and grateful for the present moment. Remember not to deprive yourself of doing activities you enjoy and spending time with your loved ones.
4. Seek Professional Counseling Or Regular Therapy
If you think your burnout has gotten out of hand, it may be a good decision to seek help from a professional for counseling or regular therapy. Some hospital employers provide free counseling for their employees. You can check with your management if they offer this type of support. And if they do, don’t hesitate to take advantage of any counseling or therapeutic services they may provide for you. Professional counselors and therapists can help you resolve burnout and guide you toward developing coping skills that’d suit your situation.
5. Join A Support Group
Aside from private therapies and counseling, another way to cope with nurse burnout is participating in support groups. No matter how exhausted you are, remember you’re never alone in that situation. Many nurses out there are also going through the same hardships. Joining support groups might help you connect with people who are experiencing the same situation and can understand you.
For instance, there are mental health support groups that organize group counseling services and other group activities for nurses and other healthcare professionals. These activities are designed to help every medical employee alleviate work-related stress and cope with burnout. You can also ask your colleagues to join you, and together you can reap the benefits of joining support groups.
6. Get Enough Sleep
Sleep deprivation is one of the leading issues among nurses, especially since many of them have to work graveyard shifts. Unfortunately, the more sleep-deprived they are, the more they’re at risk of experiencing burnout. Some nurses may argue that sleep is almost impossible when working in the medical industry. But the thing is, getting enough sleep is possible as long as you follow certain techniques. Here are some tips to help you get enough sleep:
- Create a consistent sleep routine.
- Ask your family never to disturb you, especially when you’re sleeping during the day.
- Create a sleep-inducing bedroom.
- Avoid using electronics before bed.
- Limit your caffeine intake when close to bedtime (whether you’re sleeping during the day or night).
- Take a nap during your breaks.
Enough sleep can boost your mood, improve your concentration, and elevate your motivation to work. So work hard if you need to, but don’t forget to sleep enough, too.
No job in the world is easy, especially if you’re a nurse. As much as you want to help patients heal and live a healthier life, don’t forget you need to live your own healthier life, too. Remember, you can dedicate your best self to the medical industry by being healthy yourself.